The first batch of locally assembled and government-backed smartphones will hit the Kenyan market on October 30, 2023 and will be sold at $40 (approximately Sh6,000), according to ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo.
In an interview with Business Daily, the ICT CS refused to divulge the phone specification details and the number of smartphone units in the first consignment and said the rest of the parties would be released during the launch. At the moment, meaningful information about the smartphones, such as the brand name, is still being determined.
The smartphones are being assembled by Safaricom, Jamii Telecommunications, and Chinese dealer Shenzhen TeleOne Technology, popularly known for manufacturing low-cost Neon Phones. Its expertise in producing cheap smartphones makes it a key player in this particular venture.
The full-scale production of the affordable, made-in-Kenya phones will occur in the Konza Technopolis in Malili, in Machakos County. Smartphones are part of the government-led efforts to promote digital access and inclusion in Kenya.
President William Ruto first shared the smartphone production plan in December last year as part of his administration’s agenda to change Kenya’s digital economy. The president had set a time frame to deliver the affordable Kenyan-assembled smartphones within eight to twelve months of this year. If the project succeeds, it will revolutionize the digital economy in the country.
During the launch of digitized government services on June 30, Ruto announced that smartphones would be available on the market. The president also said all digitized government services will be easily accessible on smartphones.
“We are well on course with our telcos in making sure that by August we will have smartphones affordably, working between the government of Kenya and our telcos for $40, which is like Sh5,400. You can now have a smartphone where all government services will be available,” he said.